As we have settled in our new home, we are learning all the nuances that come with such transition. We are discovering which light switches operate which lights, which keys go to which door and which rooms run hot and which rooms run cold. In other words, lots of everyday experiences still feel new with a sense of discovery that comes with increasing knowledge of our house.
If you have lived in your house a long time, I suspect you know most of the nuances, and because of familiarity, there is no need to reflect on them. I would guess that some of the quirks in your home are endearing and others are a little annoying, but they are accepted, and life goes on.
Perhaps this is true for our hearing and reading of Scripture. There are many familiar stories, and when we hear them or read them again, our minds race to the previously discovered and accepted teaching, plot or conclusion of the story. However, I want to invite us to resist the temptation of easy acceptance. Over the past few weeks using the gospel of Matthew assigned for Sundays, we have been reading and listening to Jesus teach by way of parable. The author and priest Robert Capon writes, “With Jesus, however, the device of parabolic utterance is used not to explain things to people’s satisfaction but to call attention to the unsatisfactoriness of all their previous explanations and understandings.” (Kingdom, Grace, Judgment, p.5)
Capon captures the pedagogical point of parables in that parables are intended to be unsettling, upsetting assumptions. Social, economic, political, and religious norms were the targets of the parables and Jesus’ intent to rattle the listener toward a new understanding of how God’s kingdom would look and exist. In other words, a deep listening would result in reflecting deeply on our biases, prejudices, and certitude. Perhaps, the parables, Jesus thought, would encourage new ways of thinking, living, praying and participating in the work of God.
I pray that you and I can always hear God’s word as fresh as each new breath we take. I pray that you and I can listen with open hearts and minds to what is being said for our lives here and now, for today and for each day we engage with Scripture. Let each day be an awakening, a discovery and a fresh start for how we live our lives in the presence of God, in the presence of God’s people and in the household of faith we know as this world.